Radiography is an imaging technique that uses electromagnetic radiation other than visible light, especially X-rays, to view the internal structure of a non-uniformly composed and opaque object (i.e. a non-transparent object of varying density and composition) such as the human body. To create the image, a heterogeneous beam of X-rays is produced by an X-ray generator and is projected toward the object. A certain amount of X-ray is absorbed by the object, which is dependent on the particular density and composition of that object. The X-rays that pass through the object are captured behind the object by a detector (either photographic film or a digital detector). The detector can then provide a superimposed 2D representation of all the object’s internal structures.
Plain film X-rays of the chest, abdomen, bones, joints and spine are used as the primary method for diagnosing infections, trauma and diseases of bones due to wear and tear.
Your X-ray will be taken by a radiographer. These are highly trained technicians.
Radiologists are medical specialists and their function is to inspect and interpret the appearances on the film and report the findings to the referring GP or specialist. A radiologist first has to train as a doctor and then spends at least another four years learning the necessary skills and knowledge to select the most suitable methods and materials for successful diagnosis and to minimise the risks to patients of the powerful equipment.
Nowadays much of the radiologist’s time is occupied by helping to decide upon the best management of patients’ problems and in performing and interpreting complicated procedures. At Mediclinic Vergelegen and Mediclinic Stellenbosch a radiologist is on-call 24 hours a day to deal with emergency cases.
How safe are X-rays?
The risks associated with medical X-rays are frequently exaggerated. It is estimated that the chances of contracting cancer as a result of an X-ray of the chest, for example, are similar to the risks of contracting cancer by inhaling the smoke of one cigarette – about one in a million. If you are worried about any treatment or scans you may be having, speak to your GP, your specialist or one of our radiologists. If they know of your concerns they will always make time to explain the examination or treatment in more detail.
For more information, or to make a booking, please contact Winelands Radiology at 021 851 5545.